Main Auditorium, Belfast Waterfront, 2 Lanyon Place, Belfast, BT1 3WH
Resolution, submitted by the RCN North Yorkshire Branch
That this meeting of RCN Congress demands that the UK Government abides by the ‘Dubs Amendment’ to enable unaccompanied refugee children to settle in the UK.
Lord Alf Dubs is a Labour Peer who was a beneficiary of the Kindertransport, a Government-backed programme that accepted unaccompanied child refugees in Britain from Germany in 1938.
In 2016 Lord Dubs sponsored, and the Government accepted, an amendment to section 67 of the Immigration Act requiring the Home Office to accept an unspecified number of unaccompanied child refugees from Europe for resettlement in the UK.
There was already one scheme under existing EU law, whereby a child seeking asylum who has a parent or sibling in another European country can be fasttracked to re-join them. The new scheme under the Dubs Amendment was intended for unaccompanied children already in Europe who have no relatives. At least 95,000 unaccompanied children applied for asylum in Europe in 2015 (The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, 2016).
Lord Dubs indicated that up to 3,000 children could be supported under his amendment, yet despite widespread willingness by local authorities to accept refugees, Government has committed to accepting just 480 child refugees (UK Home Office, 2018). The UK Government announced this decision in February 2017 and has not revisited it since.
The Welsh Government has set out its commitment to supporting and enabling refugees and asylum seekers coming to Wales to rebuild their lives, access public services (including health) and make a full contribution to society (Welsh Government, 2017).
In January 2018 the Scottish Government, the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities and the Scottish Refugee Council published the New Scots Refugee Integration Strategy: 2018-2022 (Scottish Government, 2018). This sets out existing support offered in Scotland to refugees, including unaccompanied child refugees, such as the Government-funded Scottish Guardianship Service, as well as future plans. In order to ease pressure on those local authorities with the most arrivals, the Home Office and the Department for Education in England has developed a voluntary transfer scheme to disperse unaccompanied asylum seeking children (UASC) around the UK. Secondary legislation extending this scheme to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland was passed on 7 February 2018.
In Northern Ireland, unaccompanied refugee children have been supported by the Health and Social Care Board to recover from their experiences of trauma, exhaustion, language barriers and cultural differences. The umbrella organisation Children in Northern Ireland has led calls within Northern Ireland for the UK Government to abide by the Dubs Amendment, stating: “Shutting the door on children who have nothing is shameful; it is sending the wrong message.” (Children in Northern Ireland, 2017)
The pledge from the UK Government must be fulfilled.